With Ryan Fitzpatrick’s messy contract situation firmly in the rear view mirror, the only quarterback controversy left in New York Jets camp is who will be his backup.
And according to ESPN, coach Todd Bowles has seen enough – or in this case hasn’t seen enough — to make the switch from Geno Smith to Bryce Petty.
“Geno is the No. 2 right now,” Bowles said Saturday after practice. “We’re not making a competition after one preseason game.”
Geno came into last Thursday’s preseason game as the number two quarterback after Fitzpatrick played only two series. Geno was promptly booed after performing poorly, but rebounded nicely at the end of the second quarter throwing a back shoulder touchdown pass to Charone Peake, a rookie wideout looking to make the squad.
Petty came in during the third quarter and showed flashes. But as Rich Cimini suggests, it wasn’t enough to turn heads and force Bowles into shaking things up.
“Bowles spelled it out quite clearly: Ryan Fitzpatrick is No. 1, followed by Smith, Petty and rookie Christian Hackenberg, in that order. Could it change over the next few weeks? Sure, but Petty’s window for overtaking Smith is closing.”
The Jets drafted Petty in the fourth round of the 2015 draft and had high hopes for him as a potential starter down the road. But coming from the spread offense of Baylor, they knew there would be a learning curve involved. They also figured Geno Smith would be the starter last year and Petty could learn from Fitzpatrick and become the backup quarterback this year.
Instead, Smith was knocked out by teammate IK Enkempali and Ryan Fitzpatrick took the helm at QB. Fitzpatrick shined, tossing 31 TDs and 15 INTs, relegating Smith to the backup role. The Jets also drafted another QB in the 2016 draft in Christian Hackenberg, creating a sticky roster situation. With Hackenberg now viewed as the future, the Jets will have to choose between keeping Geno or dumping Bryce. The likelihood of keeping all four QBs on the roster is slim to none.
Petty, meanwhile, feels like he’s in position to seize the No. 2 job, as he’s already made great strides from last year, according to Newsday.
“One word: comfortable,” Petty said, when asked how he felt in his first game action since last year’s preseason. “Every play call, I just knew what was going on and knew what was expected of me, so I just felt good about everything.”
But feeling good and making the roster are two different things. And while Geno’s numbers on the night (8-of-14, 79 yards) were pretty much on par with Petty’s (7-of-14, 93 yards), neither QB truly distinguished themselves enough to make Todd Bowles change his point of view. And that’s where Smith has the advantage in this race for No. 2. With two years of regular season experience under his belt, Geno is the clear choice if the worst case happens and Fitzpatrick goes down. It’s going to be hard for Petty to truly compete with Geno, short of doing amazing things in the preseason.
Of course, not everyone thinks Petty has zero chance at making the team as the backup quarterback. The Jet Press thinks Petty is destined to beat out Smith for one reason and one reason alone: he’s got the “It” factor.
“Petty, despite a less than perfect performance against the Jaguars, demonstrated a certain spark, a certain “IT” factor, that Smith clearly lacks. Unless Smith steps it up, he will surely sink to third-string on Gang Green’s final depth chart.”
Who do you think will emerge as the Jets backup? Geno Smith or Bryce Petty?
[Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images]